Polk may let some county workers pack heat

People who work at the Polk County Administration Building in Bartow may soon be allowed to carry a gun to work. It seems to be the first move of its kind in the state.

Right now, the only person who can carry a gun in the building is the sheriff’s office deputy who patrols it. County Commissioner John Hall says that may not be good enough if an active shooter ever shows up.

His mind began work overtime when he saw what happened in Virginia Beach in May. A disgruntled employee opened fire at a municipal building. Twelve people, including the shooter, died. Four others were injured.

“I was thinking how easy this could happen in Polk County and what we could do to get ahead of the curve to kind of head that off,” said Commissioner Hall.

Now, Hall wants to launch a Guardian program like the one that was just instituted in schools across the state.

“John Hall is a visionary. He has seen what’s happened in other places and said, ‘Hey, I want to keep the people safe,’” said Polk Sheriff Grady Judd, who put the Guardian program together.

Under the Guardian program, people who have concealed weapon permits could volunteer to take part. They would undergo psychological testing and extensive shooting training given by the sheriff’s office, then be allowed to take their gun onto the campus.

Right now, it’s only an idea -- one that seems to have support among commissioners.

The sheriff will be making a presentation to the commissioners to further discuss the issue in the beginning of August.